When you are diagnosed with cancer one of the hurdles you might face is a financial one. Bills can accumulate quickly so it might be a good idea to seek financial help early on after being diagnosed.

An excellent place to start is with the social worker in the hospital where you are being treated. They should have lists of local services and referral resources that can help you manage the financial burdens of cancer treatment. Your doctor or the oncology nurse in the doctor’s office can also prove to be a helpful resource

Don’t allow bills to go unpaid, they can pile up quickly. Having large numbers of unpaid bills will just add to your burden. Your main job is to get well; the added burden of unpaid bills will make that job more difficult.

Financial Support Resources

There are a number of organizations that can help you deal with the financial burdens you might face. In addition to the resources suggested by your doctor, nurse or social worker there are a number of excellent organizations that have been suggested by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO):

National service organizations

The Cancer Financial Assistance Coalition (CFAC) is a group of national organizations that provide financial help to patients. CFAC educates patients and providers about existing resources through a searchable database of financial resources.

CancerCare’s financial assistance programs (800-813-4673) provide limited grants for people with certain types of cancer.

The HealthWell Foundation®is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established in 2003 that is committed to addressing the needs of individuals with insurance who cannot afford their copayments, coinsurance, and premiums for important medical treatments.

The National Foundation for Transplants (800-489-3863) provides fundraising assistance for patients needing transplants, including bone marrow and stem cell transplants.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s patient financial aid program (800-955-4572) provides limited financial assistance to patients with significant need to help defray treatment-related expenses.

Local service organizations

Local service or voluntary organizations such as Catholic Charities, Jewish Social Services, the Lions Club, Lutheran Social Services, the Salvation Army, and others may offer financial assistance. Some of these organizations offer grants to help cover the cost of treatment and other expenses, while others provide assistance with specific services or products, such as travel or medications. A social worker or the local telephone directory should have a list of organizations. Many hospitals and clinics also maintain a list of service organizations in the community.

The American Cancer Society (800-227-2345) and the local United Way office can also direct people to services in their community.

General assistance programs providing food, housing, and other services may also be available from the county or city Department of Social Services (check the local telephone directory for contact information).

For direct financial assistance, people can contact their city’s Department of Social Services.

Community-based groups, such as local churches, synagogues, mosques, and lodges may also provide assistance for people with cancer, sometimes even if the person is not a member of that particular organization or religion. Some hospitals also have private funds available for patients in need.

Often, cancer advocacy and patient information groups have resources for patients. Get a list of patient information resources to connect to cancer organizations nationwide.

Travel and Housing Assistance

Air Care Alliance (888-260-9707) offers a central listing of free transportation services provided by volunteer pilots and charitable aviation groups.

Air Charity Network (877-621-7177) coordinates free air transportation for people in need.

Angel Flight Samaritans (800-296-1217) provides long-distance travel for people with cancer and their families in need of travel.

The Corporate Angel Network (866-328-1313) arranges free air transportation for people with cancer traveling to treatment using empty seats on corporate jets.

Joe’s House (877-563-7468) is a nonprofit organization providing a nation-wide online service that helps cancer patients and their families find lodging near treatment centers.

The National Patient Travel Helpline (800-296-1217) provides information about charitable, long-distance medical air transportation and provides referrals to appropriate sources.

The National Association of Hospital Hospitality Houses (800-542-9730) is an association of more than 150 nonprofit organizations that provide lodging and support services to families and their loved ones who are receiving medical treatment away from home.

Ronald McDonald House Charities
(630-623-7048) offer free or reduced-cost lodging for families of seriously ill children who are receiving treatment at nearby hospitals.
Medication and treatment cost assistance

Chronic Disease Fund (877-968-7233) helps underinsured patients with a chronic disease obtain medication.

NeedyMeds.com is an information source on companies that offer patient assistance programs. These programs help those who cannot afford medications to obtain them at no or low cost through the manufacturer.

Partnership for Prescription Assistance (888-477-2669) helps qualifying patients who lack prescription drug coverage obtain the medications they need.

The Patient Access Network Foundation
(866-316-7263) assists patients with out-of-pocket costs associated with their treatment.

Patient Services, Inc. (800-366-7441) provides assistance with insurance premiums and co-payments for people with chronic diseases.

RxHope.com (732-507-7400) helps patients obtain free or low-cost prescription medications.


Joel T Nowak, M.A., M.S.W.